'The team that holds its nerves wins in the knock out stage'
Former Pakistan captain, Inzamam-ul-Haq, reckons that the quarter-finals of the ongoing World Cup will be keenly contested, and no team can be picked as favourites to make the last-four stage of the quadrennial event.
"You look at the quarter-finalists and, on a given day, anyone is capable of giving a match-winning performance. So it is really difficult to predict right now who will make the semi-finals," Inzamam said.
"I say this even though South Africa play New Zealand and Pakistan meet the West Indies in the last-eight stage," he added.
Pakistan's most capped ODI player pointed out that the group matches had shown that any team can be beaten on a particular day.
"Once you reach the knockout stage of a World Cup, the team that holds its nerves wins. How well a team executes its plans is important, but I think keeping nerves under pressure is far more important in the knockout stage," he said.
'The management did well to boost the team's morale after loss to NZ'
Inzamam praised the Pakistan team management for lifting the morale of the players after the defeat to New Zealand.
"I think Shahid Afridi and Waqar Younis did a wonderful job after the defeat to New Zealand. And believe me, it is never easy to lift the players' morale after such a heavy defeat," he noted.
"But I always believed that the situation was not as desperate for Pakistan as it was being made out to be, and thankfully, by beating Zimbabwe and Australia, they have proved that," Inzamam said.
Inzamam backed the management's decision to drop young opener, Ahmed Shahzad, after he failed in five matches.
"One glaring weakness that has been hurting Pakistan, is the poor show put up by the openers so far. Young Ahmed Shahzad has clearly not come to terms with the pressure of playing in such a huge tournament. The management did well by trying out a new pair in Kamran Akmal and Mohammad Hafeez."
Image: Pakistan cricket team
Photographs: Getty Images
'The management must support Kamran'
Promoting the wicket-keeper was a solution to Pakistan's opening woes.
Inzamam was also happy that the management continued with Kamran despite his poor show against New Zealand, as 'keeping, according to him, was a specialist job.
"The management must stick with Kamran and give him full support as he remains a crucial player.
"Afridi has been the only wicket-taker for the team, and thankfully now, Umar Gul is also back to his best but I still feel we need more wicket-taking bowlers like Saeed in the side for the knockout matches," he stated.
"Abdur Rehman does a decent job containing batsmen, but he is not as potent as Ajmal."
Inzamam said that Pakistan is a talented outfit and the team management must concentrate on the task at hand with full confidence.
Image: Kamran Akmal
Photographs: Getty Images